Several hundred Eritrean asylum seekers demonstrated outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday, to issue a plea for Washington to intervene to ease the problems they say they face in Israel.

Carrying signs saying “no deportations of asylum seekers” and “we need protection” among others. The asylum seekers said they believe that only Washington has the clout and is close enough to Israel to encourage the country to accept their asylum claims and ensure their protection from violence and racism within the country.

Waving an American flag on the beachfront promenade across the street from the embassy, Eritrean activist Haile Mengistab told The Jerusalem Post he believes that “the American government can put pressure on the Israeli government, which has stigmatized the entire Eritrean population [in Israel].”

Quoting anti-migrant statements made recently by Knesset MKs, Mengistab said “we are not cancers, we are not a national plague, we are not infected with AIDS. We want the American ambassador to help us, because they [the US] are a strong nation and they and Israel are like mother and son. They can convince the Israeli government to be hospitable to the Eritreans and give them asylum,” adding “we’re not here to demolish Israel’s Jewish character."

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